New Attempt to Muddy Clean Water Protections

Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Partners

The following is from our partners at the National Wildlife Federation on the Clean Water Rule:

The Trump Administration has just begun a two-step plan to remove protections from waters that have been safeguarded by the Clean Water Act for more than 40 years. In a process set in motion by an executive order earlier this year, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken the first step to repeal the widely-supported Clean Water Rule. The second step is replacing it with a new rule that dramatically rolls back the historic scope of the Clean Water Act.

This hasty process threatens critical fish and wildlife habitat as well as the drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans.

The 2015 Clean Water Rule restores protections to small streams and wetlands that flow downstream into our nation’s larger, iconic waters like Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes. These headwaters, rain-fed, and seasonal streams serve as spawning grounds, trout streams, and nesting habitat for the majority of North American waterfowl. These same waters are the source of drinking water of 117 million Americans.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers developed the Clean Water Rule after years of extensive public engagement and used the best available science and law to inform the final rule-making. During a seven month comment period, the EPA met with more than 400 stakeholders and received more than one million public comments on the rule, 87% of which were supportive. A wide range of stakeholders supported the rule – including 83% of hunters and anglers.

And now we have to do it all over again.

This time though, the Administration’s process intentionally provides very little opportunity for the many clean water stakeholders and affected communities to voice their support for a strong Clean Water Act to safeguard our drinking water and outdoor heritage. The public only has 30 days to provide input on this repeal.

February’s executive order directs the agencies to “consider” Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in a Supreme Court case when rewriting a rule that defines which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act. The majority of the Supreme Court – along with the Bush and Obama administrations and every federal court of appeals to consider it since – rejected this opinion as inconsistent with the Clean Water Act.

This process contradicts the law and science that is the basis for the Clean Water Act successes of the past four decades, crippling state and federal clean water initiatives.

Small streams and headwaters serve as salmon spawning grounds which are important for everyone who loves to fish – including brown bears. Photo by Kandace Heimerr.

Rolling back the Clean Water Act in this manner could mean the loss of protections for nearly 60% of streams in the lower 48 states that don’t flow year-round. It could threaten protections for the majority of the 110 million acres of wetlands in the continental United States. It could make things worse for low income communities and communities of color that already disproportionally lack access to clean drinking water. It could expose wetlands that many communities rely on for flood protection to the threat of destruction.

If these waters lose the protection afforded them by the Clean Water Act, it would have devastating impacts on fish, wildlife, and our robust outdoor recreation economy – not to mention the water quality of the streams that provide our drinking water.

Whether for drinking, swimming, fishing, boating, or brewing, we all need clean water. And for clean water, we need strong federal Clean Water Act safeguards, not haphazard rules that disregard the science, contradict the law, and ignore public input. We need to move forward, not be set back four decades.

Take ActionAdd your voice today. Tell the EPA that you oppose any action to repeal the Clean Water Rule and efforts to diminish the common-sense protections that have safeguarded our nation’s waters for decades.

Statement On 2018 Farm Bill For Senate Committee on Agriculture

Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Partners

National Wildlife Federation CCO_Logo_2016_V

Today, The National Wildlife Federation, along with the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma and other NWF affiliates, submitted a statement for the record for the Senate Committee on Agriculture’s Field Hearing on the upcoming Farm Bill. 

“By investing more in the Farm Bill’s conservation programs, Congress would be investing in Oklahoma’s communities and wildlife habitats,” said Ron Suttles, Board Chair for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma. “These programs are extremely popular with our farming and ranching community and also provide long-term benefits to some of our favorite nesting species like quail, pheasants, and wild turkeys. If we can successfully increase funding and acreage for Farm Bill conservation initiatives such as the Conservation Reserve Program, that would be really beneficial to Oklahoma’s farming and ranching community, wildlife, and taxpayers at the same time.”

“We at the National Wildlife Federation are excited to get to work with Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, and the members of the committee on the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Farm Bill’s voluntary conservation programs have a tremendous ability to conserve and restore vital wildlife habitats in cost-effective ways, while enjoying broad support with producers and engaging rural communities.”

“The next Farm Bill needs to increase the funding and capacity of popular programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and expand the “sodsaver” provision nationwide to help reduce the conversion of native grassland and wildlife habitat. The National Wildlife Federation is eager to work with Congress to find ways to increase funding for these programs so that producers can continue to improve soil health, restore water quality, and increase wildlife populations, all while strengthening rural economies.” 

Learn more about our partner, the National Wildlife Federation at www.nwf.org.

Important Public Input for Parks in Oklahoma

Posted in Partners

The following is from our friends at Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department:

Every five years the State of Oklahoma is required to develop a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) to continue eligibility for certain federal grant programs. These grant programs and the statewide plan are directly beneficial to local communities and to Oklahoma through planning and development of infrastructure and economic development. Oklahoma State University has contracted with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to prepare the SCORP.

As a member of the public interested in parks and recreation, your responses to an online survey are important because you will be representing your community in this planning effort. Because of this, the information you provide will help us plan for future recreation needs and continue Oklahoma’s eligibility for several federal grant programs. 

Please click on the link (https://goo.gl/Q1czeQ) to complete the online survey. The survey will take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Staff at OSU will be conducting the data analysis and preparing the report for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Your voice is extremely important in planning for the future!

If you have any questions about this project at any time, please contact Dr. Fatemeh (Tannaz) Soltani, Research Assistant Professor at OSU by phone at (405) 744-9166 or by email attannaz.soltani@okstate.edu.

Fatemeh (Tannaz) Soltani, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
Oklahoma State University

Lowell Caneday, Ph.D.
Regents Professor Emeritus
Oklahoma State University

APWAOK/OWEA Joint Conference Call for Abstracts

Posted in conservation, News, Partners

Call for Abstracts

The deadline has been extended for abstracts for the American Public Works Association Oklahoma Chapter and the Oklahoma Water Environmental Association joint conference.

Share your knowledge with the Oklahoma public works and water environment community by January 13, 2017. Fill out the electronic submission form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/J9HG8PW.

For more information about the conference, click here or contact Billy Cyganovich of the APWA at 918-949-6171 or bill@cowangroup.com or Mary Elizabeth Mach of the OWEA at 405-329-2555 or  MEMach@GarverUSA.com.

Oklahoma Pheasant Population Grows

Posted in conservation, Oklahoma Wildlife, Partners

According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the pheasant population in Oklahoma continues to grow after conservation efforts were implemented in 2013.

From the ODWC:

A recovery of Oklahoma’s pheasant population that began during 2013 has continued this year. Survey results from spring and summer indicate a higher numbers of birds in the 13-county survey area in northern Oklahoma compared to the 2015 results. Oklahoma Pheasant Population

    The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation keeps track of pheasant populations in Oklahoma using two types of road survey data: spring rooster crow counts and late-summer brood counts. The data indicate the number of cock pheasants entering the breeding season, and the number of broods that survived to become part of the general pheasant population.

    Surveys are conducted in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward. Five counties that are traditionally higher in pheasant numbers have been surveyed since 1973: Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Grant and Texas.

    This year’s crow count survey is 61.5 percent above the historical average and 46.3 percent above what was recorded in 2015 in the traditionally higher counties. The statewide survey is 27.3 percent above average and 41.5 percent above what was recorded in 2015. While the brood survey is 31 percent below the historical average, the brood surveys are 30 percent higher than in 2015 in the traditionally higher population counties and 60 percent higher across the statewide range.

    Pheasant hunting season opens Dec. 1 and will run through Jan. 31, 2017. Licensed hunters may harvest only two cock pheasants daily. Wearing of hunter orange is required of pheasant hunters when any big-game hunting season is also open in the area where they are hunting.

    Areas open to pheasant hunting are Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods, and Woodward counties as well as the portion of Osage county west of State Highway 18, and portions of Blaine, Dewey, Ellis, Kingfisher and Logan counties north of State Highway 51. Seasons on public lands may vary from the statewide season.

    For more regulations and other information, consult the “Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide” online, on the “OK Hunt” app for Apple and Android, or in print wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.